r#122 – kabukimonogatari: the dandy tale

Yes, the time finally has come for me to continue talking about the Monogatari franchise, and more precisely, this is the continuation of the long overdue Monogatari Series: Second Season. The last time this franchise was mentioned on #moe404 was about three months ago *oh dear lord, why is time goes so fast— when we discussed the arc of Tsubasa Tiger. When everything happened at that time, we were mainly focused more on the character of Hanekawa Tsubasa rather than Araragi Koyomi.

That day when Tsubasa Hanekawa meets a tiger-shaped oddity, here you’ll know the reason for the disappearance of Koyomi that made him not come faster to the rescue. This arc is called Mayoi Jiangshi, or more famous by the title of Kabukimonogatari; a word which originally referred to a flamboyantly dressed hooligans who lives in the Edo period, also a word which describes people whose dress and their behaviour were ostentatious and ourte … the —twisted— dandy.

Twisted? Yes, because the word ‘dandy’ here isn’t referring a character, but for me, it’s the whole characteristic of the tale that’s been told; the story surrounding a radical character which will cause you to tilt your head in surprise and confusion *or to be honest, no arc in the Monogatari Series that wouldn’t make you tilt your head at least a little. But the Dandy Tale will take you to the next level; this is a dark-themed story of time travel that can be paired side by side with the yarn of time travel in Steins;Gate franchise.

synopsis.

Prologue, before August 20th. On his way to class, Koyomi Araragi is confronted by a girl named Ougi Oshino who quickly opens a peculiar conversation about traffic lights. Eventually, the topic shifts to the contradictory notion of safety and its tendency to undermine a person’s ability to sense a danger. Koyomi is confident that Ougi wanted to impress him by talking about a piece of useless trivia, but the talk also reminds him of his adventures with a girl who learned the danger of the road the hard way … Mayoi Hachikuji.

When the world is filled with red lights signalling danger, the world is safer than usual. But when it’s filled with green lights signalling safety, it creates a place more dangerous than anywhere else.

August 20th, still prologue. It’s the last day of summer vacation and Koyomi looks for Hachikuji Mayoi to return her backpack that she left behind at his house. On the way, he encounters Ononoki Yotsugi who reveals that just like him and Mayoi, she was once a human before she died —though while Koyomi was transformed into an immortal being and Mayoi became a ghost, she was revived by Kagenui Yozuru as a shikigami to serve under her professional onmyouji.

Anyway, with no sign of Mayoi and with Yotsugi’s words on his mind, Koyomi returns home and keeps thinking about what he could do for Mayoi until he is reminded by Shinobu that he has only a few hours left to finish his summer homework. He then ponders if he could return to the past to finish his homework in time. Surprise surprise, Shinobu reveals that it’s actually possible to do.

They then decided to time travel back into the past using the remaining spirit particles at the Kita-Shirahebi Shrine —which we’ve been introduced to this place in the arc of Nadeko Snake in the first season. It’s an abandoned temple where mystic energies are enveloping around it, allowing Shinobu to summon a portal on its gate and ask Koyomi to hop in. Although he’s somewhat nervous, Koyomi joins hands with Shinobu and leaps into the portal intending to reach the previous day.

After prologue now, sometime after the jump; they realize it’s currently May 13th, and they have travelled 11 years into the past.

set.

In the first anime season of Monogatari franchise (Bakemonogatari) when everything is introduced for the first time, the tale of our girl in question was all began in May 14th aka. the second Saturday of May aka. the Mother’s Day, when Koyomi met a girl named Hachikuji Mayoi after he ran away from his sisters at home. This little girl wanted to visit her mother’s house, but she’s lost. And with the help of Meme and Hitagi, Koyomi determined that she is an oddity known as the ‘lost cow’ and is, in fact, a ghost of a girl who was killed in a vehicular accident.

In that story, it all ends peacefully with her managing to locate her mother’s house and passed on. But it wasn’t the end for the lost cow, she’s returned as a wandering ghost.

“How’d she become a ghost in the first place?” is just the first question you’ll encounter when you dive into this arc, because we all know now that she was once a human just like Yotsugi and Koyomi himself. She had a wish, and Koyomi once has granted it … but she’s still a ghost, and that means she has more than just one wish to grant. But how far does one go to help a lost child? Maybe because it’s just an everyday routine for our knight in armour, Araragi Koyomi, the thought manages to slip through that time travelling 11 years to the past is maybe the fate for him to grant Mayoi’s wishes —while of course, prevent her death at the same time.

script and its casts.

Okai so, I remember I was saying that this arc is in the same level of Steins;Gate series … well it’s true, but not thoroughly true because if you haven’t watched the earlier stories of Monogatari Series, or moreover not familiar with all the characters in the story, then this arc would be a joke to watch. Because let’s face it, Monogatari Series is one of a few anime with the very distinct way of storytelling.

Particularly in this arc, there are so many aesthetic shots, so many movements, but it just filled with conversations. While at the same time there are so many things to do, but so little things have been done. And again I would say, this arc is one of the best stories that takes the theme of time travel. So what’s up with Kabukimonogatari? Well, to completely honest; it’s all about the characters’ interaction and their chemistry with each other.

Let’s start from the beginning..,..

When the arc starts, kicked in with a conversation between Araragi Koyomi who becomes the main character now once again, with a new girl named Oshino Ougi, where they talk literally about traffic lights. And the reason that I referred all these as prologue in the synopsis is because it truly is a prologue, you can even follow their conversations and establish it as the reasoning of everything that will happen next. In the Monogatari Series, everything is hardly passing by just as a coincidence. Instead, everything seems to be always working through and leading up to something in the end.

For example, it’s the conversation that takes the theme of traffic lights between Koyomi and the new girl Ougi —who is first time introduced in this first episode, by the way— a theme which pretty much is referring to Mayoi who was killed in a road accident in the past. And then he meets Yotsugi who reveals herself as a tsukumogami, which is an oddity based on a tool that had a grudge on its owner after being used short of 100 years … which the point is she had died once and was ‘reincarnated’, similar to Mayoi who died once and became a wandering ghost.

Basically, the main dilemma that comes to the surface that day is centred around one girl; Hachikuji Mayoi. And eventually, Koyomi takes a leap into the past with the help of Shinobu, and the episode ends with them 11 years in the past. The next episode, they do their thing and the episode ends with them back in the present. The third episode, the world literally annihilated. The fourth episode, the problem fixed and they bring their world back to normal.

So basically, this is just another story about a basic time travel with the basic concept of butterfly effect, where our main character tries to change something in the past which his theory said that it will be resulting in a better future, while we all know that no theory is absolute. In this case, succeeded in preventing the death of a little girl actually leads to a world apocalypse.

Okay now, that’s an awesome story layout, but stay with me because the story isn’t the best thing happened to this arc!

As I said before, the subject in question is Hachikuji Mayoi, but even though her name exists in the middle of every conversation and even though she’s the reason for everything that happens to Koyomi and Shinobu, her presence in the story is actually so little to none. Instead, everything happens only through the scope of Koyomi’s, from the beginning to the end. Though, this doesn’t mean there is no character development throughout the arc because actually, there is..,..

To carry the story forward, and since the weight of narrative mostly relies on the conversation between the characters, Oshino Shinobu is now the interlocutor of Koyomi. And yes, their back and forth relationship is the best thing that happened to Kabukimonogatari. There’s a shifting tone from the previous arc (Tsubasa Tiger) remembering that Hanekawa Tsubasa was the main character of that arc, and here not only Koyomi is now has become the main character once again, but it seems that his relationship with Shinobu has moved to the different level.

I have watched nine arcs before I jumped to this one, and that means this is the 10th arc of the Monogatari Series that I have watched. And now, throughout all those arcs, I feel like this is the first time the chemistry between Koyomi and Shinobu has become the centre of my attention when I watch the show … and I enjoyed their development so much, just almost as much as I enjoyed the character development of Hanekawa Tsubasa in the Tsubasa Tiger.

visual and arts.

Same as the previous arcs, there are no characters displayed on screen except those who are having to do with our focus character, Araragi Koyomi. Though when they are needed, the background characters are uniquely depicted in a unique way, even crowds of people who have transformed into vampires —which happens to exist in one point of the story— are depicted with dark shadow figures, completely synced with the dark world surrounding them in the background. In most occasions, our characters are still mostly depicted in seemingly abandoned locations, except when we go indoor such as inside Araragi’s house.

The ending theme is still using the same song (“Ai wo Utae” from the first album of Luna Haruna) and the same animation as the previous arc, which is nothing special for me; the song is catchy and the animation is all right, but I feel like the animation is now more fitting the dark colour palette that Kabukimonogatari brings rather than the more white-ish theme that Tsubasa Tiger brought onto the table previously.

But of course, each arc has its own opening theme, and this time Mayoi’s name is mentioned three times in the lyrics of the opening song. It’s titled “happy bite” which sung by Emiri Katou aka. the voice actress of Hachikuji Mayoi herself. The animation is quite colourful and even though it’s not really fit into the dark palette of how the world depicted in the story, the fun and puzzling theme as if her character always lost is actually mirrored the characteristic of Hachikuji Mayoi herself. After all, her existence is the cause of everything that happens in this story.

I’m a real fan of the lyrics by the way, especially of its verse; it reminds me about the existence of the warm kind of tsundere that I love the most, and definitely not the annoying kind of tsundere that I hate the most. Hearing it literally reminds me of the old me, and it’s so nostalgic. If you have a tsundere childhood friend, I bet you’ll feel their vibe by hearing this song on repeat.

The visual presentation when the story takes place though, it’s actually failed my expectations a bit. I really don’t want to say that the visual quality is dropped, but I have to say that if the aesthetic quality compared to the score of the previous arc, is really failed me —and I’m not talking about the ‘ecchi aesthetic’ here, what I meant is the beautiful drops of background sceneries and the consistency of body proportions of the characters.

Yes, even body proportion; it’s so sad that at one point as one character been given the close-up shots of their body to show their dramatic emotion … I felt like a bit weird watching it —but this only happens to one character, so it’s not a serious drawback. But also at some points, the colouring of the background sceneries were too simple to the degree that it looked cheap and like a lazy production to me. But only at some point and definitely not a consistent drawback … and I don’t know, the background colour is probably one thing that depended the most on your taste of colour, but generally I love yellows and still am not comfortable with the yellows here.

And that’s it, the rest of the presentation is awesome, totally a production value that I expected from the Shaft studio, specifically Monogatari Series.

closing – nesha’s final verdict.

The Monogatari Series is similar to Marvel superhero series on Netflix, where most of the main characters have their own arc to shine, even in that arc certain side characters have their own episode to shine. Kabukimonogatari for me, I would say this is the second best arc in term of character appeal, which in this case is the chemistry between Koyomi and Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade *dear lord, i wish my parents named me an awesome name like hers— to the point where I could watch them all day talking about anything and wouldn’t ever be bored at all.

But of course, not everyone will get the same amount of enjoyment when watching them two interacting with each other, but there’s something that has made me appreciate this development even more. I don’t know how to describe the way I watched the show, but if you followed the story of Monogatari Series just like I did, then you must have realized the overshadowing towards this new relationship between Koyomi and Shinobu. Even in the Tsubasa Tiger, a few times when Shinobu was in a conversation with the Black Hanekawa, she was always referring Koyomi as her master … it’s almost like she has begun to be ‘tamed’ or began to appreciate the kindness that Koyomi has been giving her since the Bakemonogatari.

I couldn’t really define what kind of relationship they are in right now since I still don’t know what really happened in their first encounter, what kind of event that has made them stick together; which even though it’s still mystery, it’s already well-established as something that’s very important as it’s managed to turn Koyomi into a half-vampire. But I enjoyed their harmony even though I still don’t know how to explain it.

And by the way, I heard that their history has begun since approximately 600 years before the event that happens in Bakemonogatari! And spoiler; it actually only takes about two hours period of time to jump 11 years into the past and get back, so remembering that the event on Tsubasa Tiger was way-way more than two hours, there must be something else that is still untold. Oh well, there is no other choice but to continue watching the show to find out what really happened. But that’s it, both of their characters’ development is what really shines from Kabukimonogatari, at least for me.

Because I died and still had regrets, I was able to meet you, Araragi-san~

— Hachikuji Mayoi.

Last words; I want you to trust me that I like this arc a lot not because all of our three favourite lolis are having a lot more screen time than they were used to have. I love Shinobu, love her enough to know that her age is literally ancient which made her a totally legal flat-chested waifu material 😂 I appreciate this aesthetic —a lot— but it’s not something for me to rely on when I’m enjoying a story or a character development. And for your information, this adds more dilemma too to the viewers considering that I know a few people actually feel disturbed when they see a mature woman depicted as an underage girl in anime. “Moral,” they said.

But again, this is just another personal preference. I’m only here to tell you what you need to know even though this is just a four episodes story-arc, but the world needs to know especially if you just got into this fandom and needing one particular good show to watch. And above all else, whether a show is worth your attention or not. In this case, I would say that the Monogatari Series hasn’t disappointed me so far, and I believe you wouldn’t be disappointed too to invest your time and attention for the franchise.

additional pieces of information.

material resources: official siteAllcinema | ANN | crunchyroll | Wiki (en) |  | Anison | MAL

The same as the Tsubasa Tiger, I’m leaving the score of Kabukimonogatari as ‘unrated’ as well. This is the second instalment of the Monogatari Series: Second Season, and there are still three story-arcs to be discussed after this one … and so I’m planning to do a rundown of the whole arcs of the second season later after I finished discussed every instalment, and only then I will give you the overall score.

But for now, you can read more of our anime reviews, don’t forget to follow #moe404 if you’re new to this blog, also support us on Patreon or buy us a coffee on Ko-fi if you’re willing to. Anyhow, thank you for reading my review, it really means a lot to me. Keep watching anime, and I hope you’ll stick around for another round of anime post next week! Bai-bai now~

© written by nesha5971
proofreaded by sliceofalfredo
Advertisements

10 responses to “r#122 – kabukimonogatari: the dandy tale

    • every instalment of Monogatari franchise has a superb quality in animation, though every one of them always has that complex and rapid fast of storytelling. though after you get used to that, this is actually one of the most beautiful pieces of tales that you could grasp from anime. but as I have written in the previous reviews of previous instalments, Monogatari Series is indeed not a show for everyone.

  1. Hey! I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the 3 Day Lyrical Challenge! You can see what you could do if you decide to participate in my newest post! Thank you! 🙂

    • thank you so much, but im afraid i have to say no. i don’t have enough time to write, i didn’t even managed to write anything last week. so i think, it’ll be good for u to tag other blogger ❤ thank you for thinking of me tho

  2. I cannot say enough good things about the Monogatari Franchise. It is my very favorite long running anime. When I did my blog I covered the whole thing in broad brush strokes and you are doing it in detail.

    The evolution of the Araragi- Shinobu relationship is but one of many lovely relationship arcs to be followed with pleasure. To really understand both that and the Araragi-Tsubasa relationship you must watch the three Kizumonogatari movies. It is a kind of prequel you don’t get to see until season 3.

    Did you get to see the 3 ONA Nekomonogatari episodes (13-15)? Difficult to find.

    My favorite episode of the entire series is Ep. 12 of Bake. It was worth some crying.

    • aw, you just made me even more hungry of the series.

      btw, i think what you’re referring is not ONA, though it’s relatively short, those actually are recap episodes. the first recap episode was aired after episode five, it tells about the events on Nekomonogatari Black but in this episode, the event is told from Koyomi’s point of view. the second episode was aired after Kabukimonogatari, it’s basically a recap for everything that happened in Bakemonogatari. the third one was aired after Otorimonogatari, the episode is a recap of everything that happened in Nisemonogatari.

      but these aren’t just typical recap episodes. there are also new contents even though it’s just a few scenes. in case you haven’t watched it, i really hope you’ll find and watch them! ❤

      • Bake 13-15 are ONA episodes that are not available on Crunchyroll. They contain important plot elements and continue the story. IIRC they are only legally available on Amazon.

      • oh dear, this video is taking forever to load! poor internet connection of mine. but worry not, because my plan is to review every single instalment of Monogatari franchise even though it will take forever for me to do. so if there are sperate instalments, then sooner or later it will come the time for my discussion. ^^

comment and discussion.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s